As a F-1 or J-1 international student, it is your responsibility to know the rules and regulations related to maintaining your immigration status.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (F-1 students) and the Department of State (J-1 students) each have regulations regarding how to maintain visa status. As long as you continually meet these obligations, you will be considered in status or "maintaining your visa status".

The staff in International Student Advising and Services (ISAS) are available to assist you with maintaining your status; however, it is your responsibility to know the regulations. You are strongly encouraged to regularly read your ONID e-mail account in order to receive announcements and updates on immigration and related issues.

Topics Related to Maintaining F-1 and J-1 Visa Status

Acquiring a Student Visa

You must have a valid passport in order to obtain a visa for the United States. Before visiting the U.S. Consulate for your visa, please read carefully the instructions on the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019 form) issued for your studies at Oregon State University. Students with an I-20 will apply for an F-1 student visa. Students with a DS-2019 will apply for a J-1 exchange visitor visa. Contact your closest US Embassy or Consulate to get the procedures for applying for a visa. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE) has published information sheets describing what to expect when applying for a student visa and at a U.S. Port of Entry. Please note: Canadian citizens do not need a visa stamp, though they must have all the other documentation.

The paragraphs below provide basic information about the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and maintaining your student visa status. You will also find links to ISFS forms available in .pdf format. For more information or to discuss your particular situation, please schedule an appointment with an international student advisor by calling 541-737-6310.

Applying for a Student Visa

Paying the SEVIS Fee

Applicants for F-1 and J-1 visas need to pay a SEVIS fee, prior to submitting the visa application. A brief description and instructions about how to process the SEVIS fee payment can be found on OSU's SEVIS Fee Payment Information sheet and by visiting the more comprehensive US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Web site and clicking on I-901 Fee. At the time of your visa interview, you will need to provide documents certifying the amounts and sources of financial support for your studies. Keep copies of these documents to present to the US Immigration official at the Port of Entry.

Please see the Maintaining Visa Status document on our Forms page.

As an international student, you must register for and complete a full course of study each term during the academic year. Full-time status for graduate students is 9 credits per term (12 or 16 credits for graduate students with assistantships). Summer and vacation periods normally do not require registration as long as you are a continuing student.  It is very important NOT to withdraw from or audit any classes that will result in less than a full course load. If you have serious academic or medical concerns, you will need to make an appointment with an international student advisor for possible exceptions prior to dropping below full-time status. Undergraduate students may apply for a "reduced course load" at the start of their final term if they have less than 12 credits remaining to complete their degree. Graduate students who have completed all required coursework and all requirements listed on their specific graduate program of study may apply for a "reduced enrollment". Reduced enrollment may be approved for up to 4 terms for a master's student or 6 terms for a doctoral student. Both forms are available on the ISFS website and in the International Program's reception lobby.

Vacation Term: Students on an F-1 or J-1 visa are allowed to take one vacation term during the year in which no registration is required. Most students choose summer as their vacation term. Students who wish to take a term off other than summer term should make an appointment with an international student advisor to determine eligibility.

Please see our Registration Requirements documents on our Forms page.


Change of Major, Degree or Funding
If you change your major or degree level or have a significant change in funding at any time during your studies at OSU, please contact International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) to request a new I-20 or DS-2019.

Please see our New I-20 Requestion From on our Forms page.


Program Extension
If you are unable to complete your program of study by the end date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019, you may request a program extension. You will need to show funding for the duration of the extension as well as compelling academic or medical reasons for your request. You must apply for an extension of program prior to the expiration date on your I-20 or DS-2019 in order to maintain your student status.

Please see our Program Extension documents on our Forms page.


Completion of Program
After you complete your degree program (and final term of registration), immigration regulations allow you a 60-day grace period (F-1 visa holder) or a 30-day grace period (J-1 visa holders) in which you may remain in the U.S. The grace period begins from the last day of the term for which you were last registered and not from the expiration date on the I-20 or DS-1029.F-1 visa holders a 60-day grace period and J-1's a 30-day grace period in which you may remain in the U.S. (60 or 30 days from the last day of the term, not 60 or 30 days from the expiration date on your I-20 or DS-2019).

We ask that you submit a Notice of Departure Form if you will be departing from the U.S. or changing to a new visa status. You do not need to submit the Notice of Departure Form if you plan to:

  • apply for Optional Practical Training or Academic Training
  • transfer to a new school
  • start a new degree program at OSU

Please see our Notice of Departure Form on our Forms page.


F-1 and J-1 visa holders coming to OSU from another U.S. college, university or language school will be considered a “transfer student” and will need to complete an immigration transfer to OSU within the first two weeks of class in order to initiate the release of your SEVIS record. Prior to your arrival on-campus, please work with your previous school to complete and return the appropriate forms. Failure to complete this process within the first 2 weeks of starting classes could result in a violation of your F-1 or J-1 status.

You may get the transfer forms on our Forms page. 

On-Campus Employment
F-1 or J-1 students may engage in part-time (up to 20 hours per week) employment on the OSU campus while classes are in session.  Students may work full-time (more than 20 hours per week) in between terms and during the summer vacation as long as they plan to be a full-time student the following term. If you are offered on-campus employment, you will need to apply for a social security number and complete paperwork with OSU's Human Resources and Payroll Office. J-1 students must also obtain written work authorization from their Program Sponsor prior to beginning any type of on-campus employment .

Please see our employment and Social Security information documents on our Forms page.

Off-Campus Employment
It is very important NOT to participate in any type of off-campus employment unless authorized by International Student Advising and Services (ISAS) and/or the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. As an F-1 or J-1 student, you may be eligible to engage in a temporary internship or off-campus employment to gain practical experience in your field of study, before or after the completion of your studies. If you are interested in off-campus employment, you should plan to attend an employment information session or make an appointment with an international student advisor before accepting an employment offer. To make an appointment with an advisor or to attend an information session, please call the International Program's receptionist at 541-737-6310.

Please see our employment documents on our Forms page.

Social Security

F-1 and J-1 students must have a job offer (or an employment authorization document) and a letter of support from International Student and Faculty Services in order to apply for a social security number. International students and scholars applying for an original, replacement, or corrected social security card must apply in person at the Social Security office. The closest Social Security office is in Albany, Oregon, a city located 12 miles east of Corvallis.

The application for a social security number (Form SS-5) is available on the web or at the Social Security office. Upon submitting the application, be sure to request a receipt as it can take 4-8 weeks to receive your social security card by mail. The receipt will be helpful as you sign up with OSU payroll.

Please see our Social Security information documents on our Forms page.


Travel Outside the U.S.

If you are planning to travel outside the U.S. please remember to do the following before you leave the U.S.:

Determine if you will need to get a visa for countries other than your own
Contact the nearest consulate or embassy of each country that you wish to visit. This process may take several months, so inquire early. Embassies of Other Nations in the U.S. (scroll down)

Obtain a travel signature from an International Student Advisor
Submit your I-20 (F-1's) or DS-2019 (J-1's) to ISAS at least five (7) working days before your departure. If you have been maintaining your visa status and owe less than $2,200 to OSU, you will receive a travel signature.  You must have a valid travel signature to re-enter the U.S.  Travel signatures are valid for up to one year or until the program end date listed on the I-20 or DS-2019.

Check your passport validity
Make sure that your passport will be valid at least six months beyond the date you plan to re-enter the U.S. If you need to renew your passport, you should plan to renew it either well before you leave the U.S. or before you return to the U.S. Also check to see that you have your I-94 arrival/departure card (stapled to your passport). You will be required to surrender your I-94 when you leave the U.S. and will be issued a new one upon your re-entry.

Check your visa validity
In order to re-enter the U.S., you must have a valid visa in your passport. If you are traveling to Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days, see the section below on "automatic extension of validity of visa" for exceptions to this requirement. If your visa has expired or will expire while you are outside the U.S., you will need to obtain a new visa while you are outside the U.S. You will also need to apply for a visa if you have use all the entries available on a single or double entry visa or if the visa in your passport does not match the status you currently hold (e.g. you have been approved for a change of status after entering the U.S.). It is currently NOT advisable to apply for a U.S. visa in Canada or Mexico. If you choose to do so and your visa is DENIED, you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. with your former visa.

To apply for a new visa, you must submit the following documentation to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy:

  • DS-156 and DS-158 visa application forms
  • Valid passport
  • Copies of financial documentation (including a letter from your department if you have an assistantship)
  • An official copy of your transcript
  • A copy of your current registration and, if available, pre-registration for the next term
  • If you are an F-1 student on Optional Practical Training, you must also produce your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).

When applying for a visa, you should expect closer scrutiny, possible delays, and procedural changes. You can access U.S. consulate and embassy information on the internet or have a friend or relative who lives in your country contact the embassy or consulate to obtain the latest information.

Travel to Canada
Based on your country of citizenship, you may or may not be required to secure a visa for a short-term visit to Canada. To get current information on Canadian visas, please visit the following Canadian Consulate website or contact the Canadian Consulate General in Los Angeles at 1-213-346-2700. The website includes a list of countries requiring a visa along with fillable visa application forms, and instructions for applying for a visa by mail or in person; Be sure to allow several weeks if you are applying by mail.

Automatic Extension of Validity of Visa Status
If you will travel to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent Caribbean Islands other than Cuba for 30 days or less, you may be eligible for automatic extension of visa. In other words, you may re-enter the U.S. without a valid U.S. visa stamp in your passport. This benefit also applies to individuals who have changed non-immigrant status in the U.S. and whose visa is still in the category in which they entered the U.S. (the visa is considered "converted" as well as "extended"). Nationals of Iran, Cuba, Sudan, Syria, and North Korea are not eligible for automatic extension of validity of visa.To be eligible for the automatic extension of validity of visa provision, you will need to have maintained and intend to resume your nonimmigrant status, and you must have the following documents:

  • The original I-94 arrival/departure card that you received upon your last entry to the U.S.
  • A valid I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature from an international student advisor (less than one year old).
  • A valid passport

Note: If you choose to apply for a visa renewal while visiting a neighboring country, and are denied, you will not be eligible for the automatic revalidation benefit, but may need to apply again from your home country.

Please see our travel information documents on our Forms page.

Change of Address
If you move to a new residence, you must inform USCIS of your new address within ten (10) days of moving. You may do so by sending an email to or by completing a form available at the front desk in Heckart Lodge. Please include the following information: first and last name, student ID number, new address, including apartment number and zip code, and date the new address is effective. You will also need to change your address with OSU Services on the OSU homepage and follow the appropriate links.


Passport Validity
It is important to keep your passport valid at all times. Contact your embassy in the U.S. for instructions on how to renew your passport if it will expire within the next six months. As long as your visa is still valid, you may continue to use the visa stamp in the old (returned) passport along with the newly issued passport.

Foreign Embassies in the U.S. (scroll down)


Dependents in the U.S.
Students on an F-1 or J-1 visa may request to bring their spouse and/or children to the U.S. on a dependent visa, known as an F-2 or J-2 visa. Note: Dependents who plan to visit you for a short period (6 months or less) and engage only in tourist activities may apply for a B-2 tourist visa.

Documentation of Financial Support

To bring a spouse and/or children to Corvallis, you must provide documentation of your financial ability to support them for the duration of their stay. A bank statement or other proof of support must be presented to International Student Advisign and Services (ISAS) before a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) can be issued. For the 2013-2014 academic year, your financial statement must document that you have a minimum of about $9,000 for the support of a spouse or child and $4,000 for each additional dependent. This funding is in addition to funds used for your own expenses.

Health and Accident Insurance
The State of Oregon requires all international students and their dependents to carry health and accident insurance throughout their stay in the United States. In addition, federal regulations require health insurance for J-1 students and their dependents. Students with dependents are responsible for enrolling them in a health insurance plan. For information regarding OSU health insurance options, contact the OSU Student Health Insurance Liaison in 328 Plageman Hall (541-737-7568).

Cost of Medical Care
OSU's Student Health Services is available to enrolled students only. Dependents will need to seek health care in the community. A typical office visit may cost $80-$150 dollars if not covered by insurance. The average cost for a hospital stay (not including medical supplies, surgery, nursing care, medication, etc.) is about $400 per day. An unexpected illness or accident can cost thousands of dollars. Good health insurance coverage is therefore essential.

Registering for Classes
Dependents on an F-2 visa are NOT allowed to study either part-time or full-time in a degree-seeking program during their stay in the U.S. unless the study is strictly recreational or avocational in nature (e.g. a dance class). If an F-2 dependent wishes to pursue a degree, he or she must first apply for and obtain F-1 status.

Dependents on an F-2 visa are NOT allowed to work at any time during their stay in the U.S. Dependents on a J-2 visa are eligible to apply for employment authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as long as the employment is not for the purpose of supporting the J-1 student. Please see an international student advisor for more information or our J-2 Work Permission Form on our Forms page.

Primary and Secondary School Enrollment
To enroll your children in Corvallis Public Schools, you will need to obtain the following documents from your home country:

  • An official birth certificate, a signed hospital certificate, or a passport as valid proof of your child's birth date.
  • A physical examination for all children beginning school in the U.S. for the first time.
  • Official copies of the child's school records.
  • All immunization records with names and dates of vaccines received. Required immunization for all school-aged children are diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, and polio. In addition, some children from outside the United States must be screened for active tuberculosis infection.

Crossroads Conversation School for Women
Crossroads International is a non-religious, non-political volunteer organization that oversees the Conversation School. The school offers beginning to advanced English classes which meet twice a week. The cost is minimal and limited childcare may be available for an additional cost. The school is not only a place to learn English, but also offers a social environment where women from all over the world can make friends and feel more at home in the community and culture. Further information and enrollment forms are available in International Student and Faculty Services - A110 Kerr Administration.

Bringing Dependents to the U.S. Information and Application

If you have questions about your immigration status, schedule an appointment with an international student advisor by contacting the International Student Advising and Services (ISAS) at 541-737-6310.